KUKA research cooperation projects
We have found strong partners and work closely with universities and renowned institutions around the world to jointly implement ground-breaking ideas in the fields of automation technology and robotics.
euRobotics AISBL – European robotics association
Through the association work in the European organization euRobotics AISBL (Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif), KUKA promotes research, development and innovation in robotics as well as its positive public perception. As a founding member of the non-profit organization, we have been actively involved and on the board from the beginning. The President of the association is KUKA Chief Innovation Officer Bernd Liepert and the Vice President Industry is Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Head of KUKA Corporate Research.
The non-profit organization euRobotics aims to drive excellence and innovation in robotics forward. To this end, euRobotics leverages the network of its members from the fields of science and industry. The goal here is to foster the exchange of knowledge within the robotics community and to shape the robotics of the future in Europe.
euRobotics AISBL has agreed on a public-private partnership (PPP) with the European Commission for robotics in Europe. As part of the research and innovation program, targets for sustainability have also been formulated – for example, the development of sustainable production methods in industry.
You can find information about euRobotics here.
Focus on cooperation
The AREUS EU research project aims to make robot systems and automation processes more environmentally friendly, more efficient and more productive. AREUS focuses on the following research fields:
- Revolutionary technologies for increasing energy efficiency and reducing the ecological footprint
- Energy-efficient design of robot production systems using recuperation (energy recovery) from multiple coupled robots in DC power systems.
- Sustainable optimization of production processes through the optimization of robot path planning in terms of energy consumption with no change in path geometry or cycle time.
The RobDREAM funded project has the objective of increasing the capabilities of robots in their inactive phases in order to process past events and learn from experiences – just as humans do. For RobDREAM, the focus is on these research fields:
- Context-dependent optimization and configuration of algorithms
- Key technologies which improve the navigation, gripping and perception of mobile robots
- System integration and benchmarking
RobDREAM at AUTOMATICA 2016
Further KUKA research cooperation
In the EU research project European Robotics Challenges (EuRoC), we are searching all over Europe for the best providers and implementers of ideas in science and industry for three important future areas in robotics:
• Hyperflexible Working Cell: For this task, innovative manufacturing solutions are developed which benefit European industry and serve to advance manufacturing technologies.
• Shop Floor Logistics and Manipulation: The participants develop solutions for the use of mobile robots and for human-robot collaboration in the areas of logistics and manipulation.
• Plant Inspection and Servicing: Where this challenge is concerned, participants search for solutions for the use of micro aerial robots in real situations.
In each of the three competitions, five teams go head-to-head to tackle predefined tasks over a period of two years. In the final project year, the two best teams are allowed to evaluate their systems with an end customer.
The EU research project MURAB has the goal of improving cancer diagnostics. The aim is to improve the precision and effectiveness of biopsies through assistance from the KUKA lightweight robot LBR iiwa. In this manner, the use of expensive magnetic resonance imaging can be reduced and replaced by robot technology which is just as precise.
The ProDok 4.0 project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aims to find a digital solution for the mobile, cloud-based documentation of machines in complex industrial processes.
The project is intended to help take advantage of the opportunities that come with digital transformation. A mobile and process-oriented documentation system such as ProDok 4.0 can simplify the operation and maintenance of machines and thus provide a competitive advantage to machinery builders.
Within the project, KUKA is researching the causes of problems in the development of sensitive robot applications using data analytics and machine learning methods. The documentation is then made available by means of KUKA’s Xpert@work knowledge database.
The European coordination initiative RockEU ran for three years – from 2013 to 2016. Its objective: to build a strong European robotics community. With the founding of the European robotics association euRobotics aisbl, this has been achieved. The follow-on project, RockEU2, which is also sponsored by the European Commission, is now building on this success.
The project aims to intensify the cooperation and exchange between international sponsor organizations, decision-makers and users in order to promote scientific developments and robotic innovations while also encouraging standardization. The activities of this European project include high-profile robotics competitions, such as the European Robotics League.
In the European robotics initiative SMErobotics, KUKA is working alongside European partners to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in the manufacturing sector. This includes automated production in batch sizes of one at different sites. Here, use is made of innovative, virtual models for simulating, planning and monitoring task execution.
Another development consist in the twin-arm assembly of metallic structures using robots. An operator can simply demonstrate the process, which is then planned automatically and converted into a skills-based program. Skills describe robotic capabilities and expert knowledge – a basic requirement for dealing with production which has many variants.
SMErobotics in 100 seconds
The projects AREUS, ROCKEU2, RobDREAM, MURAB, EuRoC and SMErobotics are sponsored by the European Union through support programs for research, technological development and demonstrators.
The ProDok 4.0 project is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The application potential for service robots has been deemed significant for years, however market developments still lag far behind expectations. This is due to the unique nature of the service robotics business. Here, robot solutions are developed for medium quantities and usually at very high costs. At the same time, they are to be offered on the market for several customers. Service robotics is thus more of a product business than a project business. On the other hand, service robotics providers are more likely to be compared to system integrators than to robot manufacturers in traditional industrial robotics. The associated technical and financial risks are very hard for the typical start-ups often working in this field to manage on their own.
The [Se]rvice [Ro]bot [Net]work (SeRoNet) sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) aims to develop an open platform geared for growth which will support the development of customer-specific solutions. Here, the previous value chain is to be replaced by a value network in which manufacturers, system integrators and end users are interconnected and cooperate in the development and operation of service robotics systems, sharing the various tasks.
This reduces the development effort for customer-specific solutions by at least 50 percent. It is not only end users and system integrators, but also operating companies and above all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) without existing sales networks that can benefit from the platform. This enables them to open up new markets, for example.
You can find further information about the project here.
Today’s wireless communication systems often lag behind the needs and requirements of industry. They are, for example, not real-time capable to the extent required or are not in a position to dynamically incorporate devices into the wireless communication network and thus guarantee quality of service in terms of throughput rates, response time and reliability. This is particularly important if mobile robots are to dynamically collaborate among themselves and with other actuators and sensors in cooperative work groups in the future.
In the “fast robotics” project sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), we are therefore working over a period of three years together with the innovative medium-sized companies O&O and R3Coms, the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation and the Technical University of Dresden to develop an innovative control concept in which the robots can reliably communicate via a wireless network not only with each other but also with fixed sensors installed in their operating environment and with mobile end devices.
This is intended to enable both mobile and stationary robots to be monitored, localized, configured and controlled in real time via a mobile telecommunications infrastructure. Cloud services are also used to simplify the integration of further sensors and components. The goal is to use the intelligent networking of robots among themselves and with their environment to provide humans with greater flexibility and functionality, to free them from monotonous and physically strenuous activities and to enable more productive work.
You can find further information about the project here.
Robotics Enabling Fully-Integrated Logistics Lines for Supermarkets – REFILLS
State-of-the-art automation is rarely present in retail businesses such as supermarkets (with the exception of simple garbage compactors or automated bottle return machines). The EU-sponsored research project REFILLS wants to change that. Together with renowned partners from the world of robotics, KUKA and SWISSLOG are working on a robotic solution for automating four traditional logistics steps found in practically every retail store.
A mobile robot system with the properties of a modular system is used. The central unit – a flat transport carrier – can couple to different additional robotic modules and carry out these logistics steps.
Once an initial scan of the inventory has been carried out and the product data have been saved, the incoming goods can be presorted into product categories and then transported in portions to the relevant shelves. The subsequent filling of the shelves is then carried out using a collaborative robot system in the first step. Surplus goods are returned to the warehouse autonomously. From there, the process for REFILLS is carried out in the final step.
InRehaRob is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and aims to create a self-adapting robotic assistance system for rehabilitation for the first time. The goal is to provide patients – for example, those who have suffered a stroke – with tailored therapy and enable them to practice movements independently.
With the LBR Med, not only is safe human-robot collaboration (HRC) possible, but – thanks to its adaptability – tailoring to individual patient requirements can also be achieved. This is why research is being carried out in collaboration with medical partners on a holistic safety concept which accounts for technical, medical and regulatory aspects and stipulates the requirements for such a concept. Beyond this, KUKA is developing interfaces specifically for use in the field of rehabilitation as part of this project. These interfaces enable system integrators and medical product manufacturers to integrate the LBR Med into their solutions more easily.
You can find further information about the project here.